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Volume 11 Number 2  -  February 1, 2000
 

Fuji New Concept Guides

by Frank Dalecki, Jr.

I have to admit that when Fuji came out with its “New Concept” guide theory back in 1995, I was skeptical. The “old concept” rod builders use to get more casting distance, particularly out of surf sticks, is fewer guides equals less line friction. The “New Concept” added guides, yet claimed to get even better distance.

My “old concept” guide configuration for a 9-foot surf spinning rod built on a Lamiglas GSB 108 1L blank calls for five guides, not including the top. The key is starting with a Fuji high-frame HVSG 40H butt guide placed approximately 56.5 inches up from the butt end. That’s way up on the blank and it contradicts the even older concept of starting with a large 75 mm stainless-steel butt guide placed closer to the reel. It works out to the following guide configuration where Guide is the Fuji guide model and Interval is the distance between each guide, first in inches then in centimeters:

 

Guide Interval
Top
YSG 12 06.5 in / 16.5 cm
YSG 16 7.75 in / 19.6 cm
YSG 20 10.1 in / 25.6 cm
HVSG 25H 12.7 in / 32.3 cm
HVSG 40H 14.4 in / 36.5 cm
   

YSGs are Fuji’s single-foot, high-frame, silicon carbide guides and HVSGs are double-foot, high-frame SiC guides.

For those of you who have already fired up your calculators, plugged in the metric conversion of .3937 inches = 1 centimeter, and discovered that the above measurements don’t work out precisely to putting the 40H at 56.5 inches up the blank, I converted our American system of fractions and did a little number rounding in order to make a better comparison with Fuji’s “New Concept” metric layout which puts eight guides on a 9-foot spinning rod in the following configuration:

New Concept

Guide Interval
     
Top    
SVSG 10 5.5 in 14 cm
SVSG 10 5.9 in 15 cm
SVSG 10 6.2 in 16 cm
SVSG 12 6.9 in 17.5 cm
SVSG 16 7.5 in 19 cm
SVSG 20 8 in 20.5 cm
HVSG 25M 10 in 25.5 cm
HVSG 30H 11.8 in 30 cm

 

SVSGs are Fuji’s standard, low-frame, silicon carbide spinning guide. I must note here that this particular “New Concept” layout was devised before Fuji came out with the YSG guide style. I suspect it would be revised because several years of custom builders creating “New Concept” guide rods has shown that the idea does, indeed, work.

One of the reasons why custom builders have found the “New Concept” theory to work is you’re actually adding less guide weight to the tip, even though you’re using more guides. As you can see, the Fuji’s concept uses smaller, lighter guides than my 9-foot configuration. Less weight translates to better rod casting and fishing performance, and weight is at the heart of the New Concept theory.

But those guides are awfully small, aren’t they? According to Fuji, “results showed that smaller guides did not increase resistance as is commonly thought,” as long as the guide diameters are suited to the line.

We tend to use some heavy line, but guide weight isn’t much of a factor on the rod’s thicker section, so I would still use the larger HVSG 40H guide, not necessarily because the ring is larger, but because the center of the 40H ring sits much higher off the blank than the 30H. This eliminates a significant amount of line slap (more friction/resistance) between the reel and the first guide.

A 40 mm ring sounds small, but I have used it as the butt guide on 11-foot surf rods. One even carries a classic, large Crack spinning reel. The trick is to position the guide far enough away from the reel and in the right spot. To do this, complete your handle assembly, lay out your guides, and tape them firmly, but temporarily, in place. You might want to install the top with a bit of low melting point hot glue so it will stay on, but can be removed and cleaned easily when you get down to guide work. Do the final installation with 5-Minute epoxy.

Take the rod out for a casting test. Don’t go for distance. The guides will probably fly off. Give it an easy cast, wrap a hand around the blank, and run it about half the way to the butt guide as the line goes out. If you feel line hitting your hand, reposition the guide, higher first, then lower. A shift of an inch or so in either direction will usually eliminate the slap because you’re changing how the line spiral enters the guide ring. An alternative method is to wrap a piece of tape around the blank about half-way between the reel and the butt guide and leave a tag end of about an inch of tape sticking out on the underside of the rod. If the tape flaps, you got slaps.

Fuji’s “New Concept” layout takes guide position further by also determining a “choke” guide. Spinning reel spools sit at a slight angle to the rod. If you extend a straight line out from the center of the spool’s shaft, it will intersect the rod about two-thirds of the way up. This is where the “New Concept” layout makes the transition from large-ring, high-frame guides to a small diameter, low frame guide. The choke point is easy enough determine once you’ve mounted the spinning reel. With the correct position of the butt and “choke” guides determined, you can adjust the remaining guide sizes and spacings accordingly.

If you start with an HVSG 40H, you should replace Fuji’s call for a 25M with a 25H in order to have the line’s path step down properly.

Rule of Thumb: HVSG 40H guides are followed only by 30H or 25H. HVSG 30H guides are followed only by 25M.

But, if you look in the current catalog supplied by Fuji’s US distributor, Angler’s World of Foley, Alabama, you won’t find HVSG guides. However, they’re still available to tackle dealers from Merrick Tackle Center (www.merricktackle.com; 914-688-2216). As Scott Greenberg of Merrick Tackle told me, “They don’t understand surf the way we do, so we’ve arranged to continue to have the guides supplied to us,” and Merrick has a full supply on hand.

To further enhance performance, Fuji has introduced a new guide for 2000 called Alconite with rings that are 7% lighter than silicon carbide and with S-4 stainless-steel frames for an overall weight reduction of up to 35% over standard guides. The Alconite ceramic material is so strong that Fuji was also able to make the guide rings the thinnest of its whole line. Because Fuji measures guides at their outside diameters, this means that a 30 mm Alconite guide has a larger opening than a 30 mm SiC guide.

Alconite guides are available in single-foot fly, casting, and heavy duty styles as well as in single-foot spinning styles (black BYAG and chrome CYAG) that have the same design as the high YSG frame. The YSG frame style is also available in a lightweight titanium alloy and a new titanium plated stainless-steel frame, both with silicon carbide rings.

Fuji’s guide codes are confusing enough as is, but keep in mind that any guide code ending in J, as in YSG20J, signifies it’s a “New Concept” guide style.

The cosmetic bug in the system is that neither the titaniums nor the black and chrome Alconite frames match the gunsmoke color of the HVSG frame and both come in styles only up to a Size 30. If you want to start with a Size 40 guide, your only option is to combine HVSG guides with a matching series of gunsmoke SiC YSGs. To update Fuji’s “New Concept” 9-foot layout, make the following substitutions:

Guide Interval
   
Top  
LVSG 10 5.5 in
LVSG 10 5.9 in
YSG 10 6.2 in
YSG 12 6.9 in
YSG 16 7.5 in
YSG 20 8 in
HVSG 25H 10 in
HVSG 40H 11.8 in

The top two single-foot LVSG 10 guides followed by a YSG 10 will take the line flow down a half-step to align with the top.

The “New Concept” isn’t going to work properly unless you carry the notion of keeping things as strong and as lightweight as possible over to your rod building work.

First of all, put away the heavy Size D guide wrapping thread. It absorbs much more rod finish than the thinner Size A thread, and actually makes for a weaker guide wrap because it takes fewer turns of “D” thread to cover the guide foot. More turns equals a tighter wrap, and the last thing you want is for a guide to start shifting and rubbing against an expensive graphite rod blank.

A method for the strongest possible wrap that Phil Koenig of Manhattan Custom Tackle and I have advocated for years is to use Size A thread for the underwrap, followed by two wraps of “A” thread over the guide foot. Each underlayer of “A” is given a thin coat of rod finish which is allowed to dry before the next wrap goes on. It works by using a watery thin finish, such as Hobby Poxy, and no color preserver. This makes for a darker, but appealing, thread wrap.

Using a thin rod finish will also give you better control of just how much finish goes onto a wrap. It may take six coats to properly finish a heavy guide low on the rod, but only four to complete a tip guide wrap.

Carry on the lightweight notion by doing a proper grinding job on the guide feet and by keeping the overall length of your wraps short. Only five to ten turns should extend beyond the guide foot.

Fuji sums it all up by saying, “The result of the New Guide concept is a rod that is lightweight, is well balanced, offers improved accuracy, and provides maximum casting distance,” but will it catch on?

There are still many Nor’east Saltwater surfcasters who refuse to budge on the notion that big surf rods and reels require big guides. Their “old concept” rods have been catching big fish for years, so it’s a tough debate. I would prefer that Fuji offered more hard test data on 9- to 11-foot saltwater surf rods, instead of simply making statements in its “New Concept” brochures, but we can’t overlook the fact that several manufacturers, including Fin-Nor, are using the “New Concept” design on rods up to 8 feet, and with impressive results. Our brand of surf fishing is somewhat unique, so it’s now up to Nor’east Saltwater rod builders and anglers to pass the final judgment.

 

 

 

 

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